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Mobile app helps nab car thief (Is your phone so secure?)

A mobile security app was used to help catch a carjacker, shining a light on mobile security.
A mobile security app was used to help catch a carjacker, shining a light on mobile security.
  • Mobile security app used to help nab a carjacker in New Jersey
  • The app, lookout, lets track their phone remotely, wipe data
  • Sometimes, the cost of a new phone is easier to swallow than lost date through theft
  • Mobile
  • Computer Security
  • Crime

Editor's Note: Amy Gahran writes about mobile tech for She is a San Francisco Bay Area writer and media consultant whose blog,, explores how people communicate in the online age.

(CNN) -- Smartphones are attractive targets for thieves -- not just because they're expensive devices, but because they often contain sensitive personal or business data.

So if you have a smartphone, it's a good idea to take security measures or use mobile security services to limit your losses if your phone gets snatched.

But what if your car gets snatched with your phone inside?

Recently, Stalin Guzman's car was stolen in Patterson, New Jersey. WABC-TV News reported that Guzman was accosted by a gun-wielding stranger as he was about to get in his car. The suspect made off with Guzman's car -- and Guzman then realized that he'd left his Android cell phone in his car.

Like many Android users, Guzman has the popular Lookout mobile security app installed on his phone.

The free version of Lookout inspects apps and other files downloaded to your phone for viruses and other problems, and it back up contacts. But the premium version ($29.99/year, available for a free 30-day trial) offers location tracking, a locator "scream," and remote lock/data wiping.

After you confirm your Lookout registration by e-mail, you can use these features.

Immediately after his car was stolen, Guzman went back inside and hopped online. After logging in to Lookout's site, he learned the current location of his car. When he called police to report the theft, he was able to tell them the current location of the vehicle.

According to WABC-TV News: "Just seven minutes later, police spotted the car on Mill Street and surrounded the suspect. 'The suspect was getting out and at that time a chase ensued and the officers saw him drop a .380-caliber automatic on the ground,' police said. Officers arrested 27-year-old Marcus Sermond and charged him with robbery and weapons possession."

There are mobile security apps and services available for every smartphone platform.

It's worth trying a few out, and choosing one that allows remote location and remote lock or data wipe. Consider the possible costs or hassles of a phone thief getting into your personal data, banking, e-mail, accounting systems, or anything else you may access or store on your phone.

Even if you cannot recover a lost or stolen phone, the cost of a new phone may be cheap in comparison to the cost and damage of compromised data or accounts.

While I don't recommend leaving your expensive smartphone sitting in your car, if you happen to do that, a good mobile security system could help you get your car back.


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